Goldie Hawn's MindUp Program for Children

Updated February 22, 2014.

In recent years, since she semi-retired, Hollywood superstar Goldie Hawn has reinvented herself as a philanthropist and “mindfulness campaigner“. She launched her Hawn Foundation in 2005 “to promote children’s academic success in school and in life through social and emotional learning”, and is promoting her meditation manual, 10 Mindful Minutes, which reached the New York Times bestseller list.

What’s MindUP?

From the Hawn Foundation website:

In her newbook, Goldie Hawn presents elements of the MindUP program that parents can use in daily life with kids. Hawn explains that mindfulness helps children develop social and emotional intelligence, resulting in greater self-awareness, less stress, and higher levels of happiness and empathy. Hawn explains how to help children use mindful breathing and focused attention to become more reflective and self aware to gain greater emotional control. In “Reflections” throughout the text, Hawn looks back on her own childhood and shares her personal experiences as a mother and grandmother. Goldie Hawn’s gentle, heartfelt approach to mothering and her mission to help children develop happier, healthier lives will be both useful and inspiring for parents.

So, how did Goldie Hawn get interested in meditation to begin with? Here’s what she said before an audience of neuroscientists at the Aspen Brain Forum. Reporting by Scientific American:

Decades ago (in 1972 she said), when she became famous, she felt newly anxious and something hard to imagine happened: she lost her signature smile. The change was foreign to Hawn—and not welcome. “When I was 11 years old, I decided that what I wanted to be in life was happy,” she said. “I thought, `All I want to do is hold onto this joy, this tickle I had when I was little.’” Having lost that tickle Hawn went spelunking, in her own psyche. She saw psychologists and began meditating, embarking on a nine-year psychological journey. Such an adventure might make lesser folks crazy or depressed in itself, but Hawn became surprisingly analytical about it. It led, she said, to her first understanding of the brain, “what it can do, how it can change.” She was particularly interested in neuroscience and spirituality, fancying questions such as “What is that God part of the brain?”

The Hawn Foundation’s MindUP program, developed by a team of educators, neurologists and psychologists is a curriculum used by teachers in about 65 US schools and nearly 150 in Canada. Part of the MindUP program includes meditation to promote calm and sharpen attention. So far, the program has proven positive.

Preliminary data suggest the program works. Kim Schonert-Riechl, an applied developmental psychologist at the University of British Columbia and her colleagues tested the effectiveness of MindUP in 75 schools in her area. So far, the program seems to have had “incredibly positive effects,” says Diamond, who helped parse the data. It not only boosted kids’ self-reported feelings of happiness, liking of school, and sense of belonging, but also moderated kids’ cortisol levels, suggesting it lowered stress in the classroom. Perhaps most strikingly, it improved children’s executive function.

What do you think of Goldie Hawn’s MindUP program for children? Do you meditate with your children? Give us your thoughts in the comment box below. Or, do you want to meditate with your kids and don’t know how to begin? Check out Young Minds and Meditation for tips on encouraging children to meditate.

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